Barca move closer to title, Sevilla draw thriller
Barcelona responded to the shock of being eliminated from the Champions League by AS Roma by beating Valencia 2-1 on Saturday at the Nou Camp, setting a Liga record run of 39 games unbeaten and taking them ever closer to another title.
Luis Suarez gave Barca the lead after 15 minutes, meeting a delicious outside-of-the-foot pass from former Liverpool team mate Philippe Coutinho and scoring with one touch from close range. Club-record signing Coutinho then delivered an outswinging corner from which Samuel Umtiti headed in Barca's second in the 51st minute, shortly after Gerard Pique had saved Umtiti's blushes by clearing a shot from Valencia forward Santi Mina off the line following a slip by the France defender.
Captain Dani Parejo pulled back a goal for third-placed Valencia by squeezing an 87th-minute penalty under Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but the Catalans withstood an exciting final spell to move to within seven points of their 25th league title. Ernesto Valverde's side lead nearest challengers Atletico Madrid by 14 points in the standings, with Atletico hosting Levante and fourth-placed Real visiting basement club Malaga on Sunday.
The Barca coach praised his players for putting the Roma defeat behind them but said their European exit had punctured their enthusiasm for the unbeaten record. "This wasn't a week to think about records, we don't give it too much importance. It was more important that we picked ourselves up after a difficult week," Valverde told a news conference. "It's normal that these players keep on breaking records.But it was a fundamental win in many ways. First of all, I am happy with the three points.